Mbabazi supporters detained without trial

Police arrest Amama Mbabazi’s former top guard Christopher Aine in Jinja in 2015. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Kampala- He was arrested, released, re-arrested and now held incommunicado. This is the tale of Christopher Aine, the chief of security for Independent presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister.

As ex-premier, Mr Mbabazi, 66, has official benefits: police guards, state stipend, housing, a car and driver. And as a presidential candidate, police added him almost a dozen more police officers.

But that was all after he changed his security detail after announcing in June, this year, that he would run for president. Mr Mbabazi turned to rely on Capt Emmy Katabazi-led coterie of private guards, which the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, now says are “militias that must be disbanded”.

President Museveni sacked Mr Mbabazi as prime minister in September 2014 before the delegates of the ruling NRM ejected him from the party’s powerful secretary-general position, three months later.

The fallout believed to be an outcome of his presidential ambitions, has in the ongoing presidential campaigns changed into public disagreements and dramatic fist-fights between the rival supporters as well as wanton arrests, raising issues of human rights violations and police impunity.

Capt Katabazi, a serving UPDF officer barred by law from partisan politics, is facing prosecution at a military court for his alleged support for Mbabazi.

In a recorded video message shortly after his release following the first arrest, one of Mbabazi’s guards, Mr Aine, whose father, Lt Col Julius Aine, was one of the 27 pioneer fighters of the National Resistance Army rebels that brought Museveni to power in 1986, said he was tortured at Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja District.

He was charged with assault, incitement to violence and obstruction of police officers on duty when he confronted the cops during Mbabazi’s consultative campaign meetings which the police disallowed.

Aine ordeal
“The horrors I experienced while in custody at Nalufenya torture chambers can only be felt, not explained. The measure of pain, uncertainty of life and hopelessness engulfed me but I remained hopeful because I knew I had heroes out there that were fighting for me,” he said, pointing to fresh wounds on his palm, chest and elbow.

On Monday last week, Mr Aine left his home in a Kampala suburb, but never reached work at Mbabazi’s office. His whereabouts is unconfirmed.

The Go Forward team says he is in police detention in Ntungamo District. However, the police have denied holding him and insist they are still looking for him to arrest him for allegedly jumping bail.

“We have it on good authority [that] Aine was kidnapped by Police Flying Squad. He is in their detention,” said Mr Severino Twinobusingye, a lawyer for the Go Forward.
Before his disappearance, Gen Kayihura vowed to arrest all Mbabazi guards who fought with President Museveni supporters in Ntungamo.

Twenty-eight other Mbabazi supporters picked up from his home and campaign headquarters, and a guard arrested on Saturday as he travelled to Luweero District, have spent four days in detention without trial.

The arrests peaked a day after President Museveni warned that those who clobbered his supporters are in trouble and would be rounded up.

The suspects have been transferred to Mbarara for identification parade over the Ntungamo incident, Mr Twinobusingye said. This newspaper was unable to independently verify the claims, and police spokespersons were unavailable for a comment.

Article 23(4)b of the Constitution states that a person arrested or detained shall be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than 48 hours from the time of his or her arrest.